Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

There is more at stake than the home in a divorce

During the course of a marriage, Salt Lake City residents often become fairly dependent on one another. The couple becomes used to a certain standard of living within the context of the marriage. When the couple decides to get a divorce, there can be significant economic consequences that result, including potential changes to the spouses' standard of living.

Recently, this blog discussed the different factors that can play into the court's decision when dividing property in a divorce. The goal of the property division process is to divide the couple's property in an equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean each spouse will receive 50 percent of all property.

However, there are differences between a simple property division and addressing the couple's standard of living during and after the marriage. This is particularly true in a high asset divorce, where complex economic factors can affect the couple's financial circumstances in the divorce.

For instance, aside from deciding who gets the home and the vehicles, significant assets may be at issue. This includes retirement and savings accounts, investments and business assets. Each spouse likely wants a share of these various assets, which may involve disputes over how those assets are valued.

In addition, when one spouse earns more income than another, disputes can arise over the spouses' standard of living after the divorce. The court may decide to award spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, to a spouse who is more financially dependent on the other spouse. The alimony award can equalize the spouses' standard of living and allow the spouse who is more financially dependent to transition from the divorce without being inequitably effected.

Source: PBS, "Are you getting a fair divorce? The economist's take," Laurence Kotlikoff, June 19, 2015

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